The spring was off to a great start for both the Streator Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs, as each took home first-place honors at a four-school Reed-Custer indoor meet. Both Ken Carlson (boys coach) and his counterpart for the girls squad, Doug Harris, are excited with the potential for their respective clubs heading into the outdoor season before it was put on hold.
"Hopefully we are able to get back out on the track at some point as long as it's safe for everyone," Carlson said. "I have been trying to keep the guys motivated to stay prepared physically and mentally through social media, emails and text group. We are keeping hope alive.
"I just hope the seniors get a chance to compete before the end of the season ... they have really worked hard and made big strides. I hope they are able to be rewarded for it."
The Bulldogs roster consists of: seniors Dalton Dean (distance), Alessandro Deleon (throws), Jeremiah Lukes (sprints), Miguel Pantoja (sprints, jumps, hurdles), Rafael Pantoja (distance, state qualifier in 800 last year), Jake Pfalzgraf (sprints), Riley Rinaldi (sprints, jumps), Devin Stratton (distance) and Nolan Williamson (throws); juniors Ethan Darrow (distance), Skyler Doss (throws), Cristobal Flores (sprints, jumps), Amarion Ford (sprints, jumps), Jacob Greer (sprints, jumps, hurdles), Trever Murphy (sprints, jumps), Edwin Paradez (throws), Kevin Parr (distance), Dustin Vernon (throws) and Josh Wilinski (sprints, hurdles); sophomores Darryl Gullens (sprints, jumps), Tyler Luckey (sprints, jumps), Walker McClellan (throws), Trevor Mitts (distance), Kyle Pfalzgraf (sprints, jumps), Alex Rodriguez (sprints), Keegan Smetanko (throws) and Cade Stevens (sprints, jumps, hurdles); and freshmen Nick Adams (distance), Isaiah Dembo (sprints, jumps), Aneefy Ford (sprints, jumps), Aiden Kearfott (sprints, jumps) and D Angelo Tripp (sprints, jumps).
"We will have a very strong sprint group, which has a chance to be one of the real strengths of the team, and we'll have a small, but mighty distance crew," said Carlson. "We were still trying to figure out who fits where in the jumps before the season was halted, and we have a number of emerging kids in the throws."
Harris feels the Lady Bulldogs have a number of athletes who have improved in the offseason and can make a run at a state berth.
"(Junior) Lana (Krohe) is our returning state qualifier from last year, and in early outdoor practices she was throwing the shot put around a foot farther then her second-place sectional mark last season and right at the qualifying standard," Streator girls coach Doug Harris. "If you were a betting person, you'd have to figure on her having a very good chance to return to state.
"We scored the most points we have had in a number of years at last year's sectional, and many of those girls are back including senior Leticia Cruz in the 300 hurdles, who was very close to both the qualifying mark and school record last year. Senior Nadia Murphy and junior Lyniah Anderson were also going to have a good chance to reach state in the 100 hurdles, but unfortunately Lyniah (who was also going to be part of the 400 relay) suffered a knee injury in basketball. Senior Faith Mitts is also a very strong athlete and had a fantastic cross country season and improved with every indoor practice in the 800."
The Lady Bulldogs squad will also feature: seniors Haylee Bruce (middle distance) and Liset Guadarrama (distance); juniors Stephanie Mendoza (distance) and Abby Seaton (middle distance); sophomores Carley Brewick-Pointer (throws), Cioni Kosur (sprints), Jenny Lyle (jumps), Madison Mertes (jumps), Zoey Puckett (sprints, hurdles), Cassie Simons (sprints) and Jeniece White (sprints, jumps); and freshmen McKenzie Bruce (throws), Abby Pierce (sprints), Sara Reed (distance), Marisa Vickers (jumps), Skylar Weber (middle distance) and Jazlynn Williams (throws).
"Without any seniors on last year's team, we are hoping to pick up where we left off last season and continue to improve," said Harris. "I'd like to see those who placed high in sectionals to move up to the top.
"It would be awful nice to take a bus down to state instead of just a van."